Virginia Web Site Lists Doctors' Felony Convictions

jazz lady

~*~ Rara Avis ~*~
PREMO Member
Richmond, Va. (AP) - Physician profiles posted on the Internet under new state rules reveal 48 Virginia-licensed doctors have felony convictions that include second-degree murder, income-tax evasion, mail fraud, drug distribution and attempted cocaine possession.

In all, 48 doctors licensed by the Virginia Board of Medicine report having felony convictions. Four of those have suspended, expired or inactive licenses. Under new state rules, doctors licensed by the board are required to report those convictions for profiles posted on the Web site,

Consumers can find out if a doctor has a felony conviction by using the Web site's search page to call up a doctor's profile.

Some of the doctors with felonies currently practice in other states but maintain Virginia licenses. The offenses may also have occurred in other states.

"Most of these would have been disclosed at the time of application" for a license, said Kathleen R. Nosbisch, deputy executive director for practitioner information at the Virginia Department of Health Professions.

However, depending on how recent the conviction is, it might not have been reported. Nosbisch said the medical board is looking at each case to make sure it was considered as part of a doctor's application or credentialing process.

"If we were not aware of the problem, a case has been opened and investigated," she told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "We are not just collecting the information but are doing something about it."

The department's practitioner-profiling Web site, which allows consumers to do background checks on doctors, has been up for more than a year. The profiles include information on doctors' educational background, office locations, malpractice history and disciplinary history.

"We are looking at this whole issue of doctors who commit crimes and whether they do or do not have to do with the practice of medicine," said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen, a consumer organization founded by Ralph Nader.

"If your doctor spent four months in jail for income-tax evasion, would that bother you?" Wolfe asked.

"The point is, being convicted of criminal behavior ... says something about the doctor. It does not mean a patient should never go to a doctor who has been convicted of a crime. But there may be some patients who don't want to go to a doctor convicted of a crime."

Wolfe said there are some convictions, such as murder and sexual abuse of a patient, that he thinks should permanently bar doctors from practice.

Public Citizen has given the Virginia Web site an "A" grade for its information and ease of use.

Among the felony convictions reported on the web site is the widely reported 1978 second-degree murder conviction of Dr. Julian Schorr, a former Norfolk doctor who, medical-board records show, now practices in Scarsdale and Irvington, N.Y.

Schorr was convicted of killing his wife. News reports from the time show that he maintained that he was a battered husband and the act was done in self-defense. He was convicted and served a 20-month sentence, with eight years suspended.

Schorr's Virginia medical license was revoked in 1979, reinstated with probation in 1987 and then reinstated without restrictions in 1990.

To date, 98 percent of doctors have completed the Board of Medicine profiles that require them to report any felony information, Nosbisch said. The medical board has disciplined 14 doctors for providing incomplete or false information and 23 for not filing any information at all, she said. Penalties have ranged from cases being dismissed to reprimands, monetary penalties or license revocation.

"Each one is looked at individually. It depends on what the allegation was and the situation surrounding it," Nosbisch said.